BOULDER, Colo. — Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn famously called his first head football coach a home run hire. Turns out, he whiffed on Dan Hawkins and again on Jon Embree.
Bohn just might be down to his last strike. Miss again and he could find himself on the hot seat.
“I recognize the pressure,” Bohn said. “The pressure’s immense.”
Hawkins was one of the hottest coaches in the nation when he took over at Colorado in 2006 after going 53-11 at Boise State. He replaced Gary Barnett, who lost his job after two scandal-plagued years and a 70-3 loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game in 2005.
Hawkins went 19-39 before getting the axe, and Embree was fired Sunday after going 4-21 in two seasons, including 3-15 in the Pac-12.
Despite Bohn’s first two hires combining for 60 losses in seven seasons and costing nearly $4 million in buyouts, Chancellor Phil DiStefano defended Bohn’s track record.
“It’s not an exact science, as far as hiring coaches,” DiStefano said. “If you look at coaches that Mike has had the opportunity to hire, especially in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, soccer and volleyball, there have been some extremely good choices there.”
Athletic directors, though, aren’t judged by the soccer coaches they hire but by the success of the man they choose to lead the football team.
“Right, and I have the same challenge that leaders across the country, general managers, presidents of professional franchises have,” Bohn said. “And when it doesn’t work out, it really is disappointing and it hurts you, it’s frustrating and disappointing to all our fans, to all of us, and most importantly, to me.”
Bohn said it’s equally important, however, to recognize when a change, and not patience, is needed, “and we never want to be in a situation where we have to settle.”